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Walk down memory lane
10/19/2004 4:36 PM ET
ST. LOUIS -- Prior to Game 5 of the National League Championship Series, broadcaster Mike Shannon was sitting in the visitors' dugout at Minute Maid Park with a smile on his face, reminiscing about the 1964 Cardinals. In fact, it seems he could speak for hours about that year, and for a good reason.

Forty years ago this month, the '64 Cardinals pulled off one of the biggest upsets in World Series history by defeating the Yankees in seven games. For Shannon, who was the starting right fielder for the Cardinals in that series, beating the Yankees isn't the first thing that comes to mind. He boasts that the majority of those players on the Cardinals' roster had successful careers after their playing days ended.

"It was a unique bunch of individuals," Shannon said. "After those guys were finished playing, most of them have gone on to be more successful off the field. Everywhere you look, the list goes on and on."

Shannon points out that he, Tim McCarver, Bob Uecker and Bill White became successful broadcasters; White and Dal Maxvill became executives in baseball; Ron Taylor became a physician with the Blue Jays; Ken Boyer and Roger Craig had their share of success as managers; and Hall of Famers Bob Gibson and Lou Brock and Dick Groat became successful businessmen.

"Not only were these great ballplayers, they were great individuals," Shannon said. "They had character. They were the kind of people you wanted your daughter to bring home."

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McCarver, now a FOX baseball analyst, was the starting catcher for the '64 team. He said it was rare to see professional players back in the 1960s prepare for life after baseball.

"I think one of the things, from a human standpoint, that players on that team are most proud of is that, not only were they great performers on the field, they were smart and great human beings," McCarver said. "That's why they had careers after their playing days were over, which at that time was unusual. In those days, players were not schooled to have happy lives after their playing careers ended."

At first, the '64 Cardinals were not the great performers. On July 1, they were 36-38 and, a little more than a month later, general manager Bing Devine was relieved of his duties.

It looked as if the Phillies had a World Series appearance cinched. Philadelphia had a comfortable 7 1/2-game lead with 12 games left in the regular season. But the Phillies went on to lose the next 10 games, while the Cardinals went 10-3 the rest of the way win to the pennant.

Shannon said the Cardinals were able to go to the World Series thanks to the experience they faced against the Dodgers the previous year.

"You have to go back to 1963, when we won 19 out of 20 games and came up on the Dodgers. The Dodgers beat us, but we had all that experience [in terms of catching up with teams in the race]," Shannon said. "It worked for us in '64. We were so many games back in late August. We knew we could do it."

The Cardinals went on to defeat the Yankees in the World Series. McCarver led all participants with a .478 batting average, but it was Gibson who wound up being the series MVP by winning two games and striking out 31 batters.

"I remember everything about it; you don't forget the World Series," McCarver said. "I was at a very impressionable age. I'd turned 23 during that Series. I remember the awesome presence of [Mickey] Mantle ... and the three games in New York, which had to be the best set of games ever played in a World Series.

"Mantle won the first game with a homer in the ninth, off Barney Schultz. Then Boyer hit the grand slam in Game 4, and Gibson's performance in Game 5. And I hit the three-run homer in the 10th inning. All those games in New York ... that's what I remember most."

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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